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Red Bull GRC: Rick Allen prepares for first call at Daytona

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As the Red Bull Global Rallycross series heads to Daytona International Speedway this weekend for Rounds 4 and 5 of the championship, Rick Allen will be on the call for this weekend’s show, which airs at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBC.

Allen, the lead lap-by-lap announcer for NBC’s NASCAR coverage, will make his Red Bull GRC commentating debut at Daytona this weekend. Although as you’ll see below, it’s an opportunity to return to his roots in a way.

We caught up with him for a quick Q&A leading into the opportunity. NASCAR on NBC resumes on July 2, also from Daytona International Speedway but on the more traditional 2.5-mile oval.

NBCSports.com: In your second year with NBC, how cool has it been to be afforded option to spread your wings beyond other forms of racing like NASCAR?

Rick Allen: “Joining the NBC Sports family has been a perfect fit for me.  I love all sports, really all competitions.  Being able to call college basketball earlier this year and Indycar races this summer has been wonderful.  I’m really excited for this weekend and the Global Rallycross races in Daytona.”

NBC: How often have you had the opportunity to watch GRC races? Have you ever called any form of racing involving a dirt section before?

RA: “When Rich O’Connor asked if I would call the races this weekend I said “that’s the series where they race on a short track that is part dirt, part asphalt, has a jump and the joker lap?”  I’m in!!!!  My first race announcing was at a dirt track in Nebraska, that’s where TV all started for me.”

NBC: What excites you about GRC? What different preparation do you have to do for this race?

RA: “I think with GRC it’s much more about the drivers and their stories.  The races are so intense from the green light that I really have to focus more on the conversation between the races.  The drivers all have such great backgrounds from different disciplines that we can let the fans know a little more about their personalities and how they got to where they are today.”

NBC: How different is it going to be to call such short spurts of racing, knowing the GRC races are so much shorter compared to a more standard 2-3 hour broadcast?

RA: “That’s one of the best things about GRC, great racing in short bursts.  My attention span is about the length of the race so it works out perfectly for me.”

NBC: Calling Daytona, is there a welcome comfort that comes with knowing it’s a track and venue you have experience with, even if the race format and series is different?

RA: “I really enjoy Daytona and the community there.  They embrace racing no matter what form or series.  So I will be more comfortable knowing I’m hanging out watching racing with friends.”


Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.